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Nikko Wrongly Designated as Founder of Nichiren Shoshu

Nichiren Buddhism in Medieval Age (1) By Ven. Senchu Murano

No Person Appointed Chief Priest of Kuonji Temple by Nichiren Shonin

Nichiren selected the Six Senior Disciples: Nissho, Nichiro, Nikko, Niko, Nitcho and Nichiji, from among his disciples on his deathbed at iketami on September 8, 1282. He requested them to bury his relics at Minobu, and to Lake care of his tomb and Kuonji Temple by turns in two month shifts.

Nichiren entered into Parinirvana on the 13th day of the next month. Is relics were buried at Minobu on October 26. On January 23, 1283, the one hundred day memorial service was held for Nichiren at Minobu. Many disciples and lay followers of Nichiren assembled there, but Niko and Nitcho were absent.

The Problem

The disciples present discussed their duty at Minobu. The problem was the location of Minobu. Nikko lived within 60 kilometers from Minobu; and Nichiji, within 80 kilometers. But all the other Senior Disciples lived in farther districts. Kamakura, where Nissho and Nichiro lived, was 200 kilometers from Minobu; Mama, the residence of Nitcho, 280 kilometers; and Mobara, the abode of Niko, 330 kilometers.

In those days travelling was a very hard work. It took four days to transport Nichiren's relics from Ikegami to Minobu. The fellow disciples talked over the problem and decided that twelve more fellow disciples be added to the list of priests on duty, and that the term of shifts be shortened to one month.


Thus the schedule of attendance was arranged as follows: January, Nissho; February, Nichiro; March, Echizenko and Awajiko; April, Nitcho; May, Nichiji; June, Shimotsukeko and Echigoko; July, Igako and Chikuzenko; August, Nichiji and Izumiko; September, Nikko; October, Niko; November, Nichijitsu and Nichimoku; and December, Jakunichibo and Tambako.

The document of this schedule, which was signed by Nissho, Nichiro, Nikko and Nichiji, has been preserved to today. Nikko signed his name as secretary of the meeting.

The assigned priests attended at Minobu regularly for about one year, but later the priests living in Kamakura became too busy to go out of town because they had to defend themselves against the suppression of Nichiren Buddhism resumed by the Kamakura Government after the death of Nichiren.

Nichiren Buddhism in Kamakura Threatened to be Eliminated

Nagasaki Yoritsuna, War Minister of Kamakura Government, attempted to utilize Nichiren's death for eliminating the daimoku-chanting Buddhists from the city of Kamakura.

He requested the temple of various sects in Kamakura, including Nichiren temples, to pray for defending Japan against another possible Mongolian invasion and also for the peace of the Hojo family.

There were only two Nichiren Temples in Kamakura at that time: Nissho's Hokkeji at Hamado, and Nichiro's Myohonji at Hikigayatsu.

Nissho and Nichiro refused to pray for the peace of the Hojo family because the Hojos never chanted the daimoku but persecuted Nichiren Buddhists. Yoritsuna had anticipated their refusal and intended to make it a pretext for suppressing them. He said that, if they disobeyed the government order, they would be banished from the city, and their temples would be destroyed.

Public Debate

For fear that Nichiren Buddhism would be eradicated from the city, Nissho and Nichiro finally yielded to the order in 1285 with the petition that the priests of all the sects in Kamakura be assembled to have .a public debate with Nichiren priests as to what teaching of the Buddha should be considered as the most excellent one.


Nikko heard of this suppression of Nichiren Buddhism in Kamakura. He sympathized with Nissho and Nichiro, and made up his mind to take care of Nichiren's tomb and Kuonji Temple on their behalf. He wrote to Mimasakabo, one of his friends, on October 18, 1284:

"There is a serious incident (in Kamakura).... Our friends in Kamakura are investigated.... Here we are not troubled.... The tomb at Minobu is trampled by deer. It is too miserable to look at.... I do not mean to say that I ignore the duty of the other Senior Disciples...."

Nikko began to stay at Minobu continuously late in 1285. Soon afterwards, Niko came to Minobu and helped him. Nambu Sanenaga, Lord of Minobu, favored Nikko. Nikko became unfriendly with Sanenaga, and finally left Minobu on December 5, 1288.

Nikko had a disciple called Nichimoku. Nanjo Tokimitsu, Nichimoku's uncle, invited Nikko to his residence at Taiseki-ga-hara, Ueno, in the Province of Suruga (Shizuoka-ken). He built Taisekiji Temple for Nikko in 1290.

He also built another temple called Hommonji for Nikko at Omosu, Kitayama, only two kilometers away from Taisekiji Temple, with the cooperation of lshikawa Yoshitada and others in 1298. Nikko moved to Kitayama Hommonji in 1298, and lived here for 35 years until his death in 1333.

Published by the Nichiren Shu Headquarters & Kagai Fukyo Koenkai

Gassh __/\__ Y k, Namu Myh Renge Ky.